How often do you come across an 8-track player? Almost never? Ok, how about ROLS audio player?
Yeah, I thought so.
Seven years ago, the State Archives did not have a ROLS audio player either. So when a researcher working on a documentary history about the Beach Bill asked to listen to Legislative audio recordings from the 1967 and 1969 sessions made on proprietary equipment, reference room staff said “sorry, we don’t have the equipment.”
Luckily for Oregonians, the story doesn’t end there. After getting an estimate of more than a quarter million dollars to digitize the Beach Bill and other legislative audio recordings, reference staff began monitoring websites such as Ebay for this equipment. When a ROLS machine became available for sale in 2013 for just $3,000, Archives staff acted quickly to purchase it.
An ingenious fix by reference archivist Austin Schulz that connected the machine’s headphone jack to an audio input on a computer made digital recording of the Beach Bill audio tapes possible. As this digitization took place, Archives staff identified each digital recording with appropriate metadata and imported each recording into the Oregon Records Management Solution. This will enable the audio to be accessible far into the future and lets us access the audio from our home computers.
The Beach Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation in Oregon’s history. Due to the ingenuity and perseverance of few archivists, a record of this important bill has been reclaimed. This work was so important that Heritage Oregon awarded the 1967 Beach Bill recording project with a Heritage Excellence Award at last year’s Oregon Heritage Conference.
Have you seen another project that ingeniously protects Oregon’s history? Nominate it for a 2015 Heritage Excellence Award!